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Body time & Politics

Duran insan (Standing human)

Some days ago, a series of (in)activity initiated by idocde co-founder Defne Erdur has been taken on by many people in Istanbul and other places in Turkey: Standing still.

Defne Erdur chose this kind of non-activity as a means of artistic and political expression. After all the voices and protests Defne's silent standing at Taksim square came to an involuntary stop through the police water guns of the police. But the action caught on later again, after the police cleared Taksim square brutally. Then Erdem Gunduz received his moment of fame after standing quietly for several hours on Taksim square in this silent form of resistance when he was joined by others.

I imagine that what has been named by the media "the duran adam – the standing man" has been quite an experience. Because of Defne's previous work of standing still at public places in Istanbul (see below) leading up to it I'd rather call it "duran insan - standing human". Standing still, or almost still (to be more precise), for a long time is a bodily experience that draws one into the internal processes – physical and emotional. If the small dance, any kind of meditation, or modelling for an art class is part of your physical practice you can relate to this of course. Being in a public place, and one so loaded with meaning and previous violence, this must be even more true.

Just standing and facing something in itself is a political statement: To allow and acknowledge the human as a thinking and feeling physical body that cannot be controlled. In its subtlety and reduction this is the ultimate subversive action – subversive as I state there is all my thinking, my sensing, my being that is outside the reach of any authority, and this is done in my body even in a state of being, not of doing.

What is the connection to idocde, apart from one idocdeista being in the midst of these events? What I came to appreciate during the development of idocde, is its inherent statement about the creative process during a time full of multilayered discussions about copyright, authorship and ownership, being political simply by its existence, standing there.

By sharing what we teach on idocde, we acknowledge that we do not act in a vacuum, but that we continuously inspire and learn from each other. What we have learned from our teachers, is being digested and embodied. Material gets transformed, reworked, reframed. What we teach we have learned from someone else or from something else at some point, in a conscious or unconscious act.

(If you’d like to get some food for thought regarding authorship, creative ownership and transformation of material, I recommend watching this video where Beyoncé used material of Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker (unauthorized). Or check out Christoph Winkler’s dance piece Dance!Copy!Right? )

In the case of the duran adam from Taksim square, there is the lineage from Erdem Gunduz to his teacher Defne Erdur at Mimar Sinan University. Earlier this year she started a practice in Istanbul where she stands still once a month in public places inbetween prayer times (see „inbetween prayers - doing nothing in the palace of justice“ as means to come face to face with her embarrassment and helplessness of not being allowed to “act politically” as an artist in her country). She references her doing back to Steve Paxton’s „small dance“ which he introduced more than 40 years ago, and Erdem practiced it with Defne as part of the global underscore created by Nancy Stark Smith.

In my opinion, the material seldomly is the same if taught „identically“ from two different teachers. Too many other things are being transmitted, consciously or subconsciously. Obviously, to acknowledge the sources is the right and important thing to do, not only as an act of fairness towards our teachers – to embrace the heritage increases our understanding of the present and opens potential for the future.

This does contribute to a body of knowledge embraced by the larger community and will ultimately propel the development of dance and its transmission. Generosity is a gift that comes back.

Theo Clinkard, a new idocde teacher wrote the following upon his decision to join idocde:

„I had actually had the realisation that my thinking and training didn't need to be confined to the classes I teach. Instead some element of this could be shared with those that attend, for them to take away and build upon, to teach themselves, as well as an online participation of sorts.This website seems like an ideal forum.

Interestingly this thought (to share) came from a conversation with someone about engineers... (I paraphrase of course, and it is clearly not my field....)

A man my friend knows has set up a website with detailed engineering plans for 3rd world countries to access for free. 

He has recognised it is a lack of access to the physical technology and training that is a massive issue as it essentially stops a community helping themselves.

I guess large companies can make big bucks for selling this material. 

Since most of my thinking is borrowed, having been experienced and embodied after working with other teachers, I can only be a conduit for ideas. In many ways, I don't own any of it. (...)

To realize that the spirit of idocde is understood spontaneously makes me trust that we are on the right track. And to understand that what we do on idocde is a contribution: to us, to the societies we live in, to the awareness on a personal and on a political level.

We had a great boost in the last weeks of new teachers joining: Welcome! We are curious to find out what you are working on!

To make things on the idocde website more user-friendly, we have incorporated changes and new features (tag cloud, adding teachers to follow, notifications, messages).

In idocde’s attempt to support dance teachers and dance institutions k3 thanks the interested teachers for their application to teach at K3. Adriana Almeida Pees and Sherwood Chen will teach the two training weeks this season on the idocde ticket, because other suggestions were also of interest for K3, other idocde teachers surely will follow in their tracks.

 

I am looking forward to seeing you at the idocde symposium in Vienna!

 

Kerstin Kussmaul

Vienna, June 24th, 2013

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